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Gartner Gets It Wrong With Cloud Quadrant

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Gartner Magic Quadrant isn’t an entirely accurate, or even objective, measure of who’s who in any given IT field. If you haven’t heard, the analyst firm’s ranking system has been called out as being everything from merely subjective (as opposed, I guess, to being only partially subjective like every other list of industry leaders) to rewarding vendors that have paid Gartner the most money for its services. I can’t comment on these allegations, nor do I care to. What I can say is that with its latest Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service and Web Hosting, Gartner just flat got it wrong.

Initially, it seems inconceivable that anybody could rank IaaS providers and not list Amazon Web Services among the leaders. Until, that is, one looks at Gartner’s ranking criteria, which is skewed against ever placing a pure cloud provider in that quadrant. Large web hosts and telcos certainly have a wider range of offerings and more enterprise-friendly service levels, but those aren’t necessarily what cloud computing is all about. Cloud IaaS is about letting users get what they need, when they need it — ideally, with a credit card. It doesn’t require requisitioning servers from the IT department, signing a contract for any predefined time period or paying for services beyond the computing resources. AWS is the epitome of IaaS and Amazon EC2 is what most other providers strive for in their IaaS offerings. (But, if customers really do want a more classic IT experience, they can engage with any number of AWS partners selling value-added services – such as the Datapipe Managed Cloud for Amazon Web Services offering.)

Furthermore, AWS has by far the broadest breadth of features and services of any other IaaS provider. Nobody else can boast multiple database and storage offerings, a CDN, Hadoop as a service, its own monitoring/management tool and two flavors of full-on HPC-grade images. As far as I know, AWS has the only PCI-compliant self-service, multitenant cloud infrastructure. It’s true that AWS doesn’t have non-cloud-type offerings like colocation or dedicated hosting, but its sheer number of cloud services all but ensures that traditional service providers will never catch it in terms of IaaS capabilities. It has its limitations, but in terms of pure cloud-based IaaS, AWS has no equals.

What it comes down to is that comparing providers like Verizon, AT&T and Terremark with providers like AWS and Joyent is akin to comparing apple with oranges. All of them are technically cloud providers, but the latter two – intentionally – have very few ties to traditional IT delivery models; they are absolutely not MSPs or colocation providers. If we’re ranking service providers based on the breadth of their delivery models, then AWS can’t be considered a leader. But if we’re ranking cloud IaaS providers, AWS has to be near the top – probably at the top. To pit pure IaaS providers against service providers that they went out of their way to avoid mimicking is a disservice to what cloud computing is all about.

Images courtesy of Flickr user JP Puerta.

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19 Responses to “Gartner Gets It Wrong With Cloud Quadrant”

  1. Yazad Boga

    When i look at this Magic Quadrant, it tells me that Amazon is right there on the top when it comes to its IAAS offerings but somewhere there is a suspect on their ability to execute in a much more superior manner than the aforementioned leaders.

    Yes the Gartner report is definitely sponsored but that does not mean that they dont do their own fact checking. Though i cannot vouch for the quality of the same. They do speak to customers using these services from the said companies and i am sure somewhere unreasonable customer experiences may have creeped in or probably a bit of a mis match between what the customers wanted and thought that they will get vis a vis what they got.
    Also it helps to be very precise with them when it comes to what kind of report is needed. :)

  2. I totally agree on that ! Amazon is a pure cloud infrustructure that should not support specific needs and dedicated enviornments. This fact doesn’t say that a major ISVs with enterprise solutions will not be able to implement on the cloud, the other way around, if the ISV will be aligned with Amazon vision I think that eventually it will be aligned with the IT future.

    Also why they don’t mention the cloud management new companies that appears and will manage those IaaS services ?

  3. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service and Web Hosting does a great job of highlighting how this infrastructure market evolving. No doubt, this market is growing and is going through a transformation. At Skytap, we think a solution approach to cloud automation can accelerate the way enterprises utilize scalable, efficient cloud computing. Our customers tell us they need a simple, self-service Web UI combined with enterprise grade security and policy control. They also want cloud flexibility – using one solution for multiple dynamic workloads such as test/dev, training or app migration. Check us out by signing up for a free trial at

  4. I rarely use Gartner. For those that think they got it right, lets review. NIST and the OpenGroup use the same definition for Cloud Computing, and IaaS.

    Gartner has failed to grade the providers on against the commonly defined Essential Characteristics, Service Models and Deployment Models.

    They do get their FUD on the money (or at least someones), but it’s a good thing that CIOs spending money know when to ignore them. Which is why the US Navy, Feds and lots of businesses (Netflix’s, etc.) use them making them the market leader. Rarely does a market leader, in all measurable fields, and one that everyone compares themselves to, get marked as not able to fulfill their role.

  5. You’re going in the right direction in this post, just not far enough IMHO.

    Cloud is not just a technology, it’s a paradigm shift, or movement, or whatever you want to call it. Amongst all the technological hype there is a genuine revolution going on, similar to the PC revolution that started nearly 30 yrs ago.

    ‘Big IT’ is likely to go the way of ‘Big Iron’ i.e. move out of the center and into the margins and dear old Gartner, wedded as they are to ‘Big IT’ are going to go with it — but they won’t recognize this fact for a while yet: self-awareness is hard for us all, including putatively ‘aware’ analyst organizations.

    Not surprising then that they don’t ‘get’ Amazon.

  6. I don’t think you checked your facts and have the experience with the other cloud providers to really comment here. This blog post sounds like a totally biased opinion towards Amazon services.

    I honestly think that Gartner got it right on this one, and you’re the one who’s wrong, Derrick.

  7. Gartner is well known for rewarding those who pay for it. The more paid, the better the reward. By their own admission–reference recent news articles–their rankings have little to do with objective reality. Pay a high enough fee, and Gartner will create a category for you, so you can be in a magic quadrant. Refuse to pay, and Gartner will never pick you for a quadrant study.

  8. Sonoma Sam

    I love Gartner. Once they put me up in La Quinta (Palm Springs)for a golf holiday with my own bungalow (house) and included everything including airfare just to get me in front of a group of vendors. We all had to vote on best of this or that but given only certain vendors were present, you had to vote for somebody anyway. As for the usefulness of our account analysts and what they provided, it just wasn’t very useful for us. Maybe it is for some companies, but I really did not feel they present you with all the choices.

    The food was really good, too. Still, the vendors practically paw at you as you have to be a decision maker to get invited. After a while you get a thick skin and ignore it and start having a good time.

  9. Adrian Cockcroft

    Les Madras needs to check his own “facts”, Amazon has a premium support offering that does have live people to talk to, and that will call your NOC if there is a problem. If you are serious enterprise customer you will have an account manager at Amazon to talk to.

  10. les madras

    Gartner looks at it from the enterprise perspective. enterprises need to call and talk to a live rep for support.
    Amazon does not offer live reps for cloud support.

    Please check your facts.

    • I believe AWS can offer live support if you buy their platinum type support contract.

      My problem with the “this” particular Magic Quandrant is that it seems totally misleading to me to list the companies in the “Leader” section the way they were.

      AWS, Joyent, IBM are all clearly BOTH Leaders *AND* Innovators.

      I don’t think you could say the same about Saavis, ATT, Verizon ?

    • I believe AWS can offer live support if you buy their platinum type support contract.

      My problem with the “this” particular Magic Quandrant is that it seems totally misleading to me to list the companies in the “Leader” section the way they were.

      AWS, Joyent, IBM are all clearly BOTH Leaders *AND* Innovators !

      I don’t think you could say the same about Saavis, ATT, Verizon ?